Ardern’s first month

A month can be a long time in politics – it seems a long time ago that Jacinda Ardern became Prime Minister, it was a month ago, and a lot longer since the election two months ago.

Claire Trevett has a detailed look at how Ardern has been going – One month in: How are Labour and Jacinda Ardern tracking?

Ardern was sworn in as Prime Minister on October 26, a few days after NZ First leader Winston ­Peters stood on a podium in the Beehive Theatrette and announced to the nation he had chosen change — he had picked ­Labour.

In that month, her travels have taken her from meeting US ­President Donald Trump in ­Vietnam to hugging Lorde at the NZ Music Awards.

She has been praised for delivering hope and drawn dire predictions of doomsday for the economy.

There have been brickbats and bouquets — and there will be plenty more with another 72 days to ­deliver her First 100 Days Plan.

There will always be those politics who don’t like the party in power and are brick headed, and there will always be devoted fans who only see flowers. And there will be many in between who recognise successes and criticise stuff ups.

In her first (so far only) speech in Parliament, Ardern promised “a new beginning”. Labour would be “the people’s Government”.

But the first day of Parliament was not quite the day of glory ­Ardern hoped for.

The National Party forced ­Labour into a backdown on the ­issue of places on select committees by threatening to stand a candidate against Trevor Mallard for Speaker.

There has been little time for Labour to assert themselves in Parliament, and less time for Ardern to establish her presence and set her mark.

Soon after Parliament opened, Ardern jetted off to Vietnam on the Air Force Boeing for the Apec ­Summit.

There was also the last flurry of negotiations around the TPP to contend with — and the risk New Zealand would scupper it by re-litigating to suit Labour’s demands.

In the end, Ardern showed that for all the talk of vision and ideals she, too, had a pragmatic streak for matters important to New Zealand.

She announced Labour would sign up for the TransPacific Partnership.

It was the first big shift in Labour’s position she had negotiated — and she copped criticism at home from those groups ­vehemently opposed to the agreement.

But Ardern pleased some of those who had been most sceptical about her leadership — the farmers and ­business.

There seems to be quite a way to go before the CPTPP gets over the line, if it ever does, but if it fails that’s likely to be because of other countries.

The first significant issue Ardern faced was not child poverty, dirty rivers or homelessness but rather New Zealand’s relationship with Australia and the fate of 600 asylum ­seekers and refugees on Manus Island.

That’s been difficult for her, and unsuccessful.

While Trump was this week pardoning a turkey in the White House, Ardern had returned to New ­Zealand to find she, too, had to ­pardon a few turkeys.

They included Stuart Nash, for his over-exuberance on the ­subject of an extra 1800 police and charging GST on international ­purchases and Kelvin Davis, who had ­struggled as her fill-in.

Davis got an immediate pardon — she declared his shortcomings were not so great and simply the result of “judginess” by ­commentators.

Other ministers hit the ground running, forging on with the 100 days pledges. Notable examples were her predecessor Andrew ­Little and David Parker.

As could be expected, a very mixed start from the new Ministers. Some immediately stepped up, while others have struggled with their new responsibilities.

Ardern’s first month has not all been plain sailing.

She campaigned on a promise of hope and change, but it did not take long before she came up against the struggle of adjusting the ­expectations she had seeded during the campaign to suit reality.

There was the newly named Comprehensive and Progressive TransPacific Partnership (CP TPP), which Labour had opposed, and the promise to re-enter the Pike ­River Mine — downgraded to a re-entry only if a further safety ­assessment deemed it safe.

There was dilution of policies such as abolishing national ­standards and repealing the ­Hobbit law — which has now become amending the Hobbit law.

There also emerged the first tricky head-to-head between NZ First and the Greens, in their ­dispute over the Waka Jumping Bill.

Nor did Ardern manage to stick to her vow to be relentlessly ­positive.

She looked very tired at the end of her international trip. It was a very demanding beginning for her. The demands, and difficulties with being positive, will continue.

Commentators who dared ­criticise her and journalists who interviewed her too aggressively were roundly abused on Twitter.

That’s the nature of social media and politics, unfortunately. Some react to criticism, or often only their own over sensitive perception of criticism, with abuse of the messenger. Sometimes this is trying to deliberately divert from the message.

When it comes to those whose opinions count the most — the ­voters — there is no sign that Ardern is not enjoying a happy ­honeymoon.

Both fan reactions and the polls show that Ardern is a star attraction, both as a celebrity and as a politician.

A month is a long time for a new Prime Minister, but three years is a huge challenge.

Not mentioned by Trevett are a number of shifts in policy position as the reality of what can be done takes over from what can be glibly promised in a campaign. This could reflect a settling in period that once done diminishes in importance, or it could be the start of an accumulation of disappointments.

I guess Ardern generally gets a pass mark albeit with a few blemishes on her early record.

The next couple of months will be substantially distracted by Christmas and the holiday period.

However Ardern and her Government will need to keep busy so they hit the ground running a credible and coherent strategy in late January.

 

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40 Comments

  1. “There will always be those politics who don’t like the party in power and are brick headed..”
    PDB. Traveller. Pleased to say, not Pete.

    • PDB

       /  November 26, 2017

      You seem to be fixated on certain people here Robert? Threatening the ‘safe space’ between your ears no doubt.

  2. robertguyton

     /  November 26, 2017

    Trevors_elbow, Alan.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 26, 2017

      I just treat folk as I find them, Robert. If Jacinda does good stuff I’ll say so just as if she does bad stuff. So far she has appointed a Labour crony to head her tax group which just points to a predictable ideological and political conclusion. We can rule out a land tax as that would cause a political firestorm for Maori land whether it was included or excluded. So they’ll go for a useless and costly capital gains tax which will further penalise savers and reduce investment in this country.

      • Blazer

         /  November 26, 2017

        capital gains tax affects savers exactly how mr Scientist?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  November 26, 2017

          Anyone who owns assets can incur a capital gain even it is only inflation and therefore be taxed simply for holding the asset even if there is no real gain. If owner housing is made exempt people will just put even more of their assets into the most expensive home they can afford rather than investing in productive assets that will be subject to the capital gains tax. It’s completely barmy so of course the Left will love it and ignore all the unintended consequences as usual.

          • Fight4NZ

             /  November 26, 2017

            Not as barmy as that misrepresentation of the CGT proposal. It is to apply to residential property. The consequences of having no restaint on property has been to starve investment in productive assets catastrophically. So we all look forward to the opposite result from what you have suggested. Policy actually aimed at strengthening our economy, it’s so refreshing.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  November 26, 2017

              It’s you who misrepresents. Labour will never implement it for the family home.

            • Fight4NZ

               /  November 26, 2017

              And rightly so.

          • Blazer

             /  November 27, 2017

            that avoids answering the question but confirms the obsession with property ….flipping speculation.

    • Trevors_elbow

       /  November 26, 2017

      Robert…. grow up…

  3. Blazer

     /  November 26, 2017

    One big black mark…Manus Island refugees.Leave this problem for Australia to solve.Its a no win situation for this..Govt.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 26, 2017

    So far so good because she hasn’t done anything. But the apppointment of Cullen and the things she has tried to do look more ominous than hopeful.

    • Blazer

       /  November 26, 2017

      the appointment of Cullen is a good one.He has worked with the former Admin,and the prick..accepted a..knighthood.

      • Gezza

         /  November 26, 2017

        Well, don’t see any problem with that one, to be honest, my good man.
        Sir Gerald.

  5. PDB

     /  November 26, 2017

    The backtracking of this new govt in its first month must be a record starting right back when the new govt was announced in which both Winston’s and Ardern’s first speeches said to expect a downturn in the economy under their reign.

    *Back down on immigration.
    *Back down on the Hobbit law.
    *Back down on the TPPA.
    *Back down on water tax (Labour)
    *Back down on a Maori seat referendum (NZl First)
    *Back down on partnership schools.
    *Back down on National Standards.
    *Back down on entering Pike River Mine.
    *Back down on tree planting.
    *Back Down on National party representation on committees.

    Only the most one-eyed left-wingers & NZL First supporters would be happy with these.

    Then to add we have the Manus Island refugee fiasco & the hijacking of Labours parental leave extension which makes them look mean-spirited in not adopting Nationals proposed (and sensible) changes. We also had the news that there is indeed a big financial hole in Labour’s financials that will mean a lot more borrowing to cover it.

    It’s been a great month!

    • Blazer

       /  November 26, 2017

      a few teething problems to tell the…tooth.

      • PDB

         /  November 26, 2017

        I’m happy if you’re happy Blazer.

        • Corky

           /  November 26, 2017

          Blazer is away with the ”tooth fairy.” These merry socialists are leading us down an enchanted path leading to rack and ruin.

          • Gezza

             /  November 26, 2017

            Possibly. Too early to say how pragmatic Jacinda will be when Treasury does the sums & tells them what they can realistically afford when they’re promising a champagne lifestyle on a beer income.

          • Blazer

             /  November 26, 2017

            is that you…’.Pam’?

    • David

       /  November 26, 2017

      Its quite a list for a new government, you can also list Nash and his taxing all overseas purchases and they are all over the show on where the extra 1600 coppers are coming from.
      For a country used to John Key making election pledges and then following through with them its a shock, a total shock to go back to the bad old days of politicians able to say one thing in the campaign and then flip flop before the ink is dry on the ministerial warrants.

      • Blazer

         /  November 26, 2017

        ‘ John Key making election pledges ‘…like ‘I won’t raise GST,and if mass surveillance of NZ’ers occurs..I will resign’…those type of things!Bol.

        • duperez

           /  November 26, 2017

          Surely not!😎

        • David

           /  November 26, 2017

          I got a tax cut Blazer to compensate, just remember tourists and drug dealers pay gst and we have loads of both, and we havent been mass surveilled so 9 years of National and 2 spurious points against 9 minutes of Labour and a veritable flip flop fest.

          • Conspiratoor

             /  November 26, 2017

            Where do you start with that one.

            John gives David a tax cut …and al is forgiven

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  November 26, 2017

              Wasn’t aware I needed forgiving, C.

            • Gezza

               /  November 26, 2017

              Nonsense, Sir Alan.
              I forgive you almost daily. I just do it quietly. It takes up a lot less time and energy than pointing out where you’re wrong when you invariably then want to argue for hours in the hope of winning through sheer bloody endurance.
              Sir Gerald.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  November 26, 2017

              I thought you were supposed to be up a mountain today, Sir Gerald. Was I right again?

    • Missy

       /  November 26, 2017

      “…the hijacking of Labours parental leave extension which makes them look mean-spirited in not adopting Nationals proposed (and sensible) changes.”

      I beg to differ, this doesn’t make them look mean-spirited, it makes them look like they don’t value fathers & don’t believe that fathers have the same right as a mother to bond with their child over the first few months of its life.

      To say that is mean-spirited is kind, it is in fact discriminatory against fathers, which in my opinion is worse than being mean-spirited.

      • Blazer

         /  November 26, 2017

        you should join the Greens Missy.

        • Missy

           /  November 26, 2017

          Good joke Blazer, I didn’t realise you had a sense of humour! Must say, it did give me a laugh on a cold dreary Saturday night.

      • Missy

         /  November 26, 2017

        As for the 2 downtickers, well done in showing your contempt for the importance of fathers in a childs upbringing. Guess neither of you are fathers.

      • Gezza

         /  November 26, 2017

        I think they know now they should have included fathers, to do so would be consistent with their values, and they’re just being bloody-minded because to agree now would to end up giving ALL the credit to National in the minds of the public.

  6. David

     /  November 26, 2017

    I am really looking forward to the 11 billion fiscal hole being reported by all the journalists who blasted Joyce about it.